Early Intervention is a State program for children from birth to age three who are experiencing delays or who have a diagnosed disability. As the largest single provider of Early Intervention services in Central Illinois, Easter Seals knows the significant difference it makes in the lives of children and families.
How do children and families get involved in Early Intervention?
For some children, that referral for Early Intervention happens at birth. For most children, however, they are referred for an evaluation in Early Intervention because their parent or doctor is concerned about their development.
As a parent, if my child wasn't sitting up or crawling as I would expect him to, or if he's not talking by age two, then I would ask for a referral?
A referral to Early Intervention actually begins with the local Child and Family Connections office - the CFC. And the CFC acts as the system point of entry for Early Intervention. Child and Family Connections then connects the family with a provider such as Easter Seals for an evaluation, and services if needed.
Infancy and Toddlerhood seem really early to seek services. Why not wait a bit until the child is older?
A lot is expected of very young children from a developmental perspective, and research has found that the sooner we get started, the better the long term outcomes. At Easter Seals, we've known of several families who have had more than one child with a special need. With the first, they weren't as aware and they waited to seek help. With the second, they were on alert and started early. Those families have found that the children who get the help they need early have experienced stronger outcomes.
I recently read that some children who need a little extra help early are even able to catch up and start kindergarten with their peers without any additional educational supports. Is that really true?
While every child is different, regardless of their needs, starting early makes all the difference.